Basically the idea popped into my head that Riker cuts again at some point and the kids freak out. It was a process to figure out who died and all that jazz. It took me waaaaaaaay too long to finish typing up this short story and then I was just kinda done so the ending may not be satisfactory. Sorry, but real life and procrastination. Ugh.
ANYWAY, Riker and Jeff would be around the age of 44, while Lasey is 18 and Ryan is 16. Basically all that is needed. ALSO, Katie is Addie and Kaiden's daughter who would be 15. Just as a reference. I added her in in a short story that I have not finished yet, soyeah.
Soyeah. Any questions just let me know :)
"Lasey, I swear to god, if you do not leave your brother alone I am going to lock you in your room," Riker hissed at Lasey, who was poking at Ryan's hair as he tried to avoid her hands.
"Rude, Daddy," Lasey replied as she stopped and placed her hands on her hips Ryan just huffed out an annoyed breath and reached over the back of the couch in order to slap Lasey's arm. She immediately let out an indignant yelp and tried to tackle Ryan to the couch.
"Honestly, you are eighteen and sixteen," Riker grumbled as he lunged over to grab Lasey around the waist.
"So?" Ryan asked "You and Papa are no better sometimes."
"Exactly," Lasey agreed as she pulled out of Riker's arms.
"We're married. We're allowed to push each other's buttons all the time," Riker replied as he ruffled Lasey's hair. Lasey yelped and slapped Riker's arm as he laughed. "That's what you get for making fun of your brother for his bad haircut."
"Hey!" Ryan exclaimed as Lasey began cackling. Riker just chuckled and ruffled Ryan's hair before kissing his forehead.
"Love you, bud," Riker added.
"I question my love," Ryan huffed in annoyance as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Aw, Ry, it's not like you have anyone you really need to impress. Eric has seen your sex hair. I don't think it can get much worse than that," Lasey giggled.
"I hate this family," Ryan grumbled as he stomped up the stairs.
"Drama queen!" Lasey called out as they heard Ryan's door slam shut.
"Lasey, be nice," Riker told her as he walked off into the kitchen. Lasey huffed a breath and followed her dad into the kitchen.
"It's my job to bug Ryan, Daddy. We're siblings," Lasey commented as she sat down on one of the stools at the island and propped her elbows up on the counter.
"I know. You think I grew up with two older siblings and don't know that?" Riker chuckled as he started pulling things out of the fridge to start on dinner. Lasey just hummed and pressed her lips together and then pulled her long hair over her shoulder to start braiding it.
"Speaking of your older siblings, when are we gonna see them?" Lasey asked. Riker shrugged his shoulders as he turned the oven on to preheat.
"I have no idea, to be honest. We're here and they're in New York," Riker replied. Lasey huffed out a breath and Riker chuckled as he leaned over to island to tap her nose. She just smiled and scrunched up her nose as she finished her braid. "You look a lot like Jeff when you do that."
"I would hope so, speaking I have his geeeeeenes," Lasey said. Riker snorted and rolled his eyes as he continued to get things ready for dinner. Lasey smiled and then hopped off of the stool in order to help him. Riker smiled also and bumped his hip into hers, causing her to giggle again.
Then, Riker's phone started ringing. He sighed and pulled it out of his pocket and saw that it was Kaiden.
"G'head. I got this, Daddy," Lasey said, giving Riker a small smile. He smiled in response and kissed her forehead before he answered the phone and walked out of the kitchen.
"Hey, Kaiden. What's up?" Riker asked right before he heard a sniffle.
"Riker," Kaiden coughed out. Riker's eyebrows immediately knit together.
"Kaiden, what happened?" Riker asked as he started to pace around the living room.
"Where are you?" Kaiden asked in response.
"Home," Riker replied. "What happened?"
"Ri-Riker," Kaiden coughed. "Dad died."
"Wh-what?" Riker asked, eyes widening as he stopped his pacing and almost fell onto the floor, catching himself on the back of the couch. "What happened?"
"I d-don't know," Kaiden replied with a small sob. "I j-just g-got a call and n-now A-Addie is d-driving m-me to the ho-hospital."
"I-it happened to-today?" Riker asked quietly as he started making his way up the stairs.
"Y-yeah. I-I'm sorry t-to sh-shove this o-on y-you today," Kaiden cried, both of them acknowledging for the first time in some way that thirty-two years ago today was the day that Ryan died.
"It...it's okay, Kaiden," Riker coughed out as he walked into his and Jeff's bedroom and slowly closed the door before locking it.
"It-it's not," Kaiden cried. Then, Riker heard someone say something to Kaiden. "I-I'm sorry. We-we're here n-now. I'll ca-call you later. I lo-love you."
"I love you too," Riker choked out before he hung up the phone and dropped it onto his bedside table before he collapsed onto the bed and buried his face in his hands as he started to cry, shoulders shaking with the force.
A few minutes later, he dragged himself off of the bed in order to ensure the door was locked and then begin the search of the room and bathroom that he knew wouldn't end well.
"Mr. Castellan! I'm confused!" Shaina exclaimed from where she was sitting on the other side of the stage from Jeff.
"Shaina, that was my ear," Elaine said indignantly from next to her friend. Their friend Josh just smiled and rolled his eyes next to them as he continued to look down at his sheet music. Some of the other students just shook their heads and then went back to their own sheet music, some of them humming to themselves.
"What's got you confused, Shaina?" Jeff asked as he pushed himself up from the floor and walked over to Shaina, who was looking up at him.
"The song as a whole confuses me. It doesn't make any sense," Shaine replied, which caused Elaine and Josh to snort with laughter.
"You honestly just called me over here because the song doesn't make sense?" Jeff asked. Shaina blinked up at him and then nodded once.
"Yes," She added. Jeff rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"It is times like this when I question my decision to teach high school vocal classes," Jeff breathed as he walked away from Shaina.
"Hey!" she exclaimed as the rest of the students chuckled.
"Oh, shut up, Shaina. You know that was a dick move of you," Josh snorted, which was followed by him releasing a yelp as Shaina punched his arm.
"Shaina, honestly, behave," Jeff told her as he sat back down where he had been before. Shaina made a face at Jeff before turning back to her sheet music, silence falling over the students except for the occasional humming.
Then, a few minutes later, Jeff's phone started ringing in his pocket.
"Hey! Double standards, Mr. Castellan!" one of the students called out.
"I have two kids, you guys don't," Jeff replied as he pulled his phone out to see that Miri was calling him. His eyebrows knit together as he stared at the screen before answering it. "Miri?"
"Jeff, where are you?" Miri immediately asked.
"I am currently sitting on the stage at the school. It's my last class of the day. Why?" Jeff asked in response.
"Riker isn't answering his phone," Miri panted out. I tried his phone. I tried your house. I even tried Lasey and Ryan. Lasey didn't answer and I think Ryan's phone is dead."
"Whoa, slow down, what happened?" Jeff asked as his eyes widened. He heard Miri let out a deep breath and he knew she was trying to calm down.
"Jeff, Jason died earlier today," Miri finally choked out. "And I know that Kaiden called Riker. Addie called me a bit ago to tell me. I immediately tried to call Riker, but he wouldn't answer."
"Shit," Jeff hissed out and he scrambled up from the floor. A few of the students looked up at him in shock, but he ignored them.
"Exactly. You know what today is, Jeff," Miri coughed out.
"I know. I was going to take the day off but Riker refused to let me, saying that Lasey and Ryan were home," Jeff replied as he started to heard towards the auditorium doors. Then, he turned to look at his students. "Don't do anything stupid, I'm going to be sending someone in from the office."
"Jeff, how long does it take you to get home?" Miri asked, voice panicked.
"About ten minutes," Jeff replied as he burst into the front office.
"Jeff, why aren't you with your class?" Olivia, the receptionist, asked.
"I need you to send a sub in. Family emergency. I need to leave, like, ten minutes ago," Jeff replied. Olivia's eyes widened and she nodded as she picked up the phone to call in a replacement.
"I've got you covered. Go home," Olivia told him.
"Thank you!" Jeff exclaimed before he ran out of the office and towards the parking lot to jump into his car.
"Jeff, once you know what is going on, let me know," Miri breathed.
"I will, I swear," Jeff told her.
"Thank you," Miri replied before they both hung up. Jeff just took a deep breath and pressed his foot to the gas pedal in order to speed home. As soon as he pulled into the driveway he jumped out of the car and ran into the house. He was immediately met by the sight of Ryan sitting on the stairs, head held between his hands as he ran his fingers through his hair.
"D-Daddy!" he heard Lasey exclaim from upstairs. Jeff swore and threw his keys and jacket onto the floor, the action catching Ryan's attention. Ryan immediately jumped up and darted towards Jeff.
"Ryan, how long has this been going on?" Jeff asked, lifting a hand to wipe at a stray tear on Ryan's cheek.
"Almost two hours," Ryan replied. "Daddy locked himself in your room and Lasey noticed and has been by your door trying to get it open."
"Fuck," Jeff hissed, causing Ryan to startle slightly. Jeff just kicked off his shoes and then ran up the stairs. He found Lasey sitting in front of his and Riker's bedroom door, tears streaming down her face and hair a mess around her face.
"Daddy, please," she whimpered as he arms fell limply to her sides.
"Lase, honey, scoot," Jeff whispered as he kneeled on the floor next to her. Lasey just sniffed and nodded.
"I'm worried," Lasey sniffed.
"Me too, sweetie," Jeff replied as he carefully pulled a bobby pin out of her hair.
"He probably cut, didn't he?" Lasey asked, looking up at Jeff with wide eyes. Jeff pressed his lips together and nodded once. "I know he thinks I probably don't remember that conversation we had about it when I was four, but I do."
"It'll be okay, Lase," Jeff assured her, kissing the top of her head as Ryan slowly lumbered up the stairs, Samoa help carefully in his arms. Jeff then turned to the door and knocked lightly. "Rike, honey, you need to open the door."
All three of them fell silent after that, listening carefully. Jeff took a deep breath to steady himself after a minute, preparing himself for the worst. He lifted his hand and carefully started to pick the lock of the door, hoping he could get it open quick enough. When he finally heard the click of the lock, all three of them let out a sigh.
"Both of you stay out here until I say, okay?" Jeff asked quietly. Lasey and Ryan just stared with wide eyes and then nodded before Jeff quietly crept into the room, which was dark. He closed the door slowly and then walked towards the bathroom. He found Riker there, curled up in the bath tub with his arms help closely to his chest. Jeff let out a sigh and lowered himself to the floor next to Riker and reached out to run his fingers through Riker's hair.
"Hey, c'mon, you know the drill," Jeff said quietly. Riker shook his head stubbornly as he stared blankly at his feet. "You're only making his worse for youself. Do you know how worried the kids have been? How worried Miri has been? We just want to help, Rike. I know this is hard for you. I also know that you forgot to take your pills at least twice this week."
"Riker shook his head stubbornly, still refusing to look up. Jeff huffed out a sigh and then grabbed the first aid kit from beneath the sink before climbing into the bath tub with Riker. Riker immediately made himself smaller by tucking his legs and arms closer to his chest. Jeff took a deep breath, willing himself not to cry.
"C'mon. I just want to help. Do you want to face Lasey and Ryan with those?" Jeff asked. Riker shook his head. "Exactly. So, please, let me patch them up."
Riker let out a defeated sigh and then slowly exposed his arms to Jeff, who bit his lip to keep the tears at bay as soon as he saw two cuts along each wrist.
"Oh, baby," Jeff whimpered as he scooted closer to Riker and kissed his forehead, letting his lips linger there. Riker immediately let out a choked sob and buried his face in Jeff's shoulder. Jeff wrapped his arms around Riker and tangled his fingers in Riker's hair as he pressed his lips to the top of Riker's head. "Alright, let me clean these and then we can cuddle on the bed, okay? I know Lasey is going to want to. She's been worried. She knows exactly what you did. She said she remembers when we told her about it when she was four."
Riker just sniffed and looked at the wall beside him as Jeff started to clean the cuts. Jeff fell silent as he worked over the cuts, taking deep breaths so that he wouldn't start crying.
"D-did Mom call you?" Riker suddenly asked.
"Mhm. She said she tried to call all of you and none of you answered," Jeff replied. "Addie called her to tell her that Kaiden had called you."
"Mmh," Riker said, still avoiding Jeff's gaze.
"You know I'm not angry at you, right?" Jeff asked as he finished putting the bandages on. "You'd think you'd realize this by now after all the times I've had to patch you up."
"I know," Riker whispered before he sniffed.
"I love you, okay? No matter what," Jeff breathed as he leaned over to press his forehead to Riker's. "No matter how many times you promise you won't cut again, and then break that promise. It's okay to not be okay, Rike. I accept you. All of you."
"I know," Riker choked out as he curled himself closer to Jeff. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Jeff breathed as he ran his fingers through Riker's hair. "Now, c'mon. Let's get you out of those bloody clothes before we let Lasey attach herself to you like a leech."
"Mmh," Riker hummed in agreement as he allowed Jeff to pull him out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. Jeff pulled clothes out of the dresser for Riker and then handed them to him.
"I'm gonna go talk to the kids. You change. I love you," Jeff breathed, pressing a kiss to Riker's forehead. Riker just nodded in agreement and watched Jeff slip out of the room. As soon as Jeff walked out of the room and closed the door, Lasey jumped up and stared at Jeff with wide eyes, Ryan standing just behind her.
"C'mon. I wanna talk to you guys for a few minutes," Jeff said.
"But..." Lasey strarted, cutting off as Jeff shook his head and nudged them both down the hallway towards Lasey's room.
"Papa, what happened?" Ryan asked, immediately curling into Jeff's side as they all sat down on Lasey's bed.
"Uncle Jason died earlier today," Jeff breathed out.
"What?" Lasey gasped out, eyes growing even wider as she clapped her hands over her mouth. Jeff just nodded and allowed her to curl into his other side.
"Do you guys remember what today is?" Jeff asked. Ryan and Lasey exchanged looks and then looked at Jeff as they shook their heads. Jeff let out a breath and punched the bridge of his nose. "Thirty-two years ago today was the day Ryan died."
"Is that why you tried to stay home today?" Ryan asked. Jeff pursed his lips and nodded as Lasey let out a small sob.
"Papa, I wanna go to Daddy," Lasey cried.
"You go. You already understand. Ryan was too young," Jeff said. Lasey just nodded once and then bolted from the room. Ryan gave Jeff a curious look as Jeff turned to face him.
"Understand what?" Ryan asked.
"Understand what happened with Dad today," Jeff replied. Ryan nodded slightly in encouragement. "You know how he has to take medications each day?"
"Yeah," Ryan replied.
"Well, that is because he has PTSD and depression problems. He has had them since he was twelve," Jeff said.
"Was it because of what happened with Grampa?" Ryan asked. Jeff nodded.
"Mhm. Daddy was a mess for a really long time because of what happened," Jeff added. "But what I want you to understand is that Daddy didn't, and still doesn't, always handle things like this very well."
"Is it kinda like the stories Addie tells us?" Ryan asked.
"No. Addie never got to the point Daddy did," Jeff told Ryan. Ryan's eyes immediately widened and even more tears brimmed in them. Jeff had to hold back a sob because of how similar Ryan's eyes looked to Riker's when they each felt broken.
"Daddy hurt himself?" Ryan asked as tears rolled down his cheeks. Jeff just nodded. Ryan crawled carefully into Jeff's lap then, and Jeff was thankful that their sixteen year old son was relatively small thanks to Artemis' genes that he had inherited.
"It's okay, Ry. He's okay. This is the first time he has cut since before Lasey was born. Today was just too much for him," Jeff crooned at Ryan as he buried his fingers in Ryan's hair.
"It's still not okay," Ryan choked out. Jeff sighed and rocked Ryan slightly. "It could go further. I don't wanna lose Daddy."
"Sh, Ry. It's okay. Daddy hasn't been that bad of a place since we were fifteen," Jeff told Ryan. Ryan looked up at Jeff then and wiped at his nose.
"But he was at one point?" Ryan asked. Jeff swallowed thickly and nodded.
"He's lucky I was around to save him both times. He still thanks me, even though one time was accidental," Jeff told Ryan, who took a deep breath and buried his face back in Jeff's neck. "You don't have to worry though. Daddy is a lot better now than he was back then. He used to cur every day back then up until he landed himself in the hospital. Like I already told you, this is the first time in almost nineteen years that he has cut."
"Mkay," Ryan breathed. Jeff smiled sadly and kissed the top of Ryan's head.
"Now let's go join the cuddle session I know is happening on the bed," Jeff said, standing up and dragging Ryan with him. Ryan just nodded once and latched onto Jeff's hand as Jeff led them towards the master bedroom. When they walked in they were met with the sight of Riker lying with his head in Lasey's lap as she ran her fingers through his hair while Samoa was curled up at Riker's stomach. As Riker noticed Jeff, he held out a hand. Jeff gave Riker a small smile and crawled onto the bed and collapsed against the mattress right next to Riker so that Riker could curl against him. Ryan crawled up a few seconds later, attaching himself to Jeff's free side.
"Has Kaiden called again?" Jeff asked. Riker shrugged in response.
"Addie called my phone at one point. I didn't answer," Lasey said quietly. Jeff nodded slightly.
"C'mon. We could all use a nap. Once we wake up we can check in with everyone," Jeff said. The rest of them just nodded, Riker curling closer to Jeff, ensuring his ear was over Jeff's heart. Jeff smiled slightly and ran his fingers through Riker's hair as Lasey settled down on Riker's free side and Ryan nuzzled into Jeff's neck.
Jeff woke up a few hours later feeling like he was being suffocated. He glanced around himself and saw that Riker was plastered to his left side, their legs tangled together. Then, Ryan had somehow worked his way on top of Jeff's chest and had his face buried in the crook of Jeff's neck. Once again, Jeff was thankful that the sixteen year old was relatively small.
Jeff let out a deep breath and then carefully pulled his limbs away from Riker's before moving Ryan carefully into Riker's arms. They both let out small stubborn noises, but then wrapped around each other. Lasey let out her own little whimper and shifted as well, maneuvering her way beneath one of Riker's arms and draping over his side. Jeff smiled and suppressed a snort as he pulled out his phone to take a picture of the three of them. Then, he quietly crept out of the room and closed the door behind him. Samoa appeared as he began walking down the stairs and she let out a small, but sharp, meow, letting Jeff know that she was hungry.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, Samoa. I'll go feed you. Just hold on a few minutes," Jeff told her as he went over to pick up his keys and jacket to put them where they belonged. Samoa meowed at him again and then stalked away into the kitchen, tail held high in the air. Jeff rolled his eyes as he followed after her and pulled his phone back out of his pocket in order to call Miri.
"Jeff?" Miri asked breathlessly as soon as she answered the phone. "What happened?"
"He'd locked himself in our room and cut before hiding out in the bathroom. I found Lasey sitting outside of our door crying and Ryan had been sitting on the bottom of the stairs," Jeff replied as he got Samoa's bowl and food out in order to feed her.
"How bad was he?" Miri asked.
"He's been worse. It didn't take me long to convince him to let me clean his cuts, and then we all cuddled together on the bed. Well, after I explained things to the kids," Jeff told her as he put Samoa's food on the floor in her spot. Miri let out a relieved sigh.
"So he's okay now?" she asked.
"I hope so. The three of them are still passed out. I had to ninja my way out of the pile because Riker and Ryan were suffocating me," Jeff replied as he hopped up onto the counter. Miri let out a small laugh.
"Your little family is extremely cuddle oriented," she told him.
"That's what we get for being cuddled all the time while growing up and then cuddling our children any time we could when they were little," Jeff chuckled in response as he swung his legs back and forth. Miri just hummed in agreement. "So, has Addie called you any other times?"
"Yeah. She's actually here with Kaiden and Katie...though Kaiden hid himself away in Riker's old room," Miri replied.
"Mom's with him now," Jeff heard Katie say.
"Ah, okay," Miri said.
"Did they say what happened?" Jeff asked. Miri huffed out a deep breath and Jeff could almost see her pinching the bridge of her nose.
"They suspect a heart attack, but the doctors still aren't sure," Miri told him.
"Oh. Poor Kaiden," Jeff breathed. Miri hummed in agreement again. Then, Jeff heard soft footsteps coming down the stairs and he looked up just as Lasey walked into the kitchen as she rubbed at her eyes, her hair a mess around her face.
"Who're you on the phone with?" Lasey yawned as she walked over to place herself between Jeff's legs and press her ear to his chest. Jeff smiled slightly and rested his chin lightly on top of her head as he ran his fingers slowly through her stray hairs.
"Gramma," Jeff replied. Lasey hummed in response and leaned into Jeff's touch.
"I'm not sure how I ended up sleeping over Daddy's side, but I woke up with his elbow in my jugular," Lasey breathed out. Jeff snorted with laughter and kissed the top of her head.
"You all shifted around a bit after I got out of the bed. Ryan had been an octopus on top of me while Daddy was an octopus stuck to my side," Jeff told her.
"So, nothing out of the ordinary," Lasey giggled.
"Nope," Jeff agreed as he smiled a bit, hearing Miri laugh on the other side of the line.
"Like I said, extremely cuddle oriented," Miri added.
"Mhm," Jeff hummed in response before putting the phone on speaker to set it on the counter. "You're now on speaker, Mir."
"Hi, Gramma," Lasey yawned.
"Hey, sweet pea. How're you holding up?" Miri asked.
"Better now that I know Daddy's okay...and after a nap," Lasey replied. Jeff snorted and ruffled her hair lightly.
"What happened with Riker?" Katie's voice asked, laced with confusion.
"He just got really upset, honey. Today was the day Ryan died," Miri told her.
"Huh? What happened to Ryan?" Katie exclaimed.
"Katie, not Riker's and my Ryan. Riker's dad Ryan," Jeff said.
"Oh, okay. I was about to freak out wondering if Ryan was a ghost all these years or something," Katie breathed.
"Well, I mean, he is actually very similar to Ryan...just a lot smaller," Miri commented.
"Ryan is tiny," Lasey giggled.
"Not that I mind. He climbed into my lap earlier and then I woke up with him on top of me. Bless Artemis' genes for passing down onto him. He is just a tiny Riker," Jeff crooned. Katie giggled on the other side of the line and Miri huffed out a breath, and Jeff could tell that she was rolling her eyes.
"You're probably lucky Lasey isn't tiny also," Miri said.
"My genes are obviously more potent than Riker's," Jeff replied. Lasey just smiled and rolled her eyes as she nuzzled back into Jeff's chest.
"Issues, Papa. Issues," she added. Jeff smiled and kissed the top of her head.
"He does have quite the amount of issues, hon. He married my son, after all," Miri breathed out.
"Don't even, Miri. You're the one who asked us if we were dating when we were eight," Jeff retorted.
"It was a valid question," Miri replied as Jeff heard Katie begin to laugh in the background.
"Did they even know what dating was when they were eight?" Katie asked.
"No. No we did not," Jeff told her. "And after that, Ryan never let go of the idea. When I came out when we were twelve he ran around the house screaming at the top of his lungs. I was a little shocked."
"That's putting it lightly," Miri breathed out. "Ryan was ecstatic about it."
"Uncle Curt said that Grampa tried to show Riker porn," Lasey giggled. Miri let out a heavy sigh as Katie began to laugh hysterically in the background.
"What?" Katie added as both Miri and Jeff sighed.
"It's true," Miri added. "He threw Curtis under the bus for having porn in his possession. I mean, did Curt think we didn't know? He was nineteen."
"This family is strangely open," Lasey commented.
"Always have been, baby girl," Jeff replied as he pressed a loud kiss to her forehead. Then, they heard someone shuffling down the stairs and they both looked up to see Ryan shuffling his way into the kitchen as he yawned and pushed his bangs out of his face.
"Daddy's throwing up," Ryan yawned. Jeff heaved a sigh and nudged Lasey out of the way.
"This is what he gets for missing his meds," Jeff sighed as he slid off of the counter. Jeff heard Miri tsk over the line and Lasey jumped onto the counter into Jeff's previous spot.
"Slap my son over the head for me. He always tends to do that in the days right before this day," Miri said.
"Don't worry, I will," Jeff replied as he headed towards the stairs, hearing Ryan mumble a quiet hi, Gramma into the phone. Once Jeff made it upstairs he went straight towards his and Riker's bathroom and found Riker there slumped against the shower door. Jeff walked over and pushed Riker's bangs off of his forehead. "You get it all out?"
"I think so," Riker panted in response.
"Good," Jeff replied before slapping the back of Riker's head lightly. Riker's eyebrows knit together and rubbed his head. "Miri told me to."
"Mmh," Riker hummed as Jeff leaned over to kiss Riker's forehead.
"C'mon. Brush your teeth and then you can go talk to Miri. Katie is there with her. We were just talking about when Ryan tried to show you porn when we were twelve," Jeff said. Riker rolled his eyes and pushed up from the floor to go over to the sink.
"Dad had problems," Riker commented before he started to brush his teeth.
"Mhm. But I wouldn't have had him any other way," Jeff replied as he kissed Riker's cheek. Riker hummed in agreement around his toothbrush before he rinsed out his mouth. Jeff held out his hand wordlessly and Riker accepted it before they headed downstairs. Riker stayed close to Jeff's side, grip tight around Jeff's fingers.
"Nuh uh, Gramma! He did not!" Lasey exclaimed through a giggle as they walked back into the kitchen to see Lasey with a hand over her mouth and Ryan clutching the counter as he laughed.
"He did. Riker becomes a very interesting character when he is running on only a few hours of sleep," Miri replied as Katie giggled in the background.
"Oh god. What story did you just tell?" Jeff asked as he jumped back up onto the counter next to Lasey and pulled Riker between his legs.
"The summer before you went to college and Riker ran around the house naked and covered in paint," Miri replied as the kids continued to laugh. Riker let out a grumble and buried his face in Jeff's chest as Jeff chuckled and ran his fingers through Riker's hair.
"Darren and Dalton were a little shocked," Jeff added.
"Oh god, how old were they when this happened?" Ryan asked, wiping tears off laughter off of his cheeks.
"Four," Jeff told him, causing Lasey and Ryan to burst out into fresh laughter as Miri chuckled. Riker just huffed out a breath against Jeff's chest. "Oh, honey, you knew those stories would come back to haunt you. Your night with Lily and Kamryn your junior year still comes up."
"Oh god," Riker groaned as Jeff smirked and kissed the top of his head.
"What happened?" Katie asked, voice closer to the phone now.
"Things with underwear and Lily hiding Riker's clothes," Jeff replied simply.
"Oh! I know what it is now! Lily told me once. Daddy's weird," Lasey said as she scrunched up her nose.
"Jeff condones it," Riker said defensively.
"I like how that is the approach you take, rather than wanting to chastise Lily for telling your daughter about that," Miri laughed over the line.
"I've long accepted Lily, Kamryn, and Artemis telling my children inappropriate stories about us," Riker replied.
"Martie said that Kamryn and Lily used to tell her embarrassing stories about you guys when she was super pregnant," Ryan said. Riker and Jeff sighed and nodded.
"They did. It was how we kept Artemis appeased while she sat around the house on bed rest," Jeff told him. Ryan and Lasey both snorted with laughter. Then, the doorbell rang and Ryan stood up straight.
"I got it!" he exclaimed, bolting off towards the door.
"If you invited Eric over I'm gonna kick your ass!" Jeff called out.
"I didn't!" Ryan replied as they heard him crash into the wall, causing Lasey to burst out laughing. Jeff sighed and shook his head as Riker huffed out a small laugh.
"Ryan, honey, what the hell did you just do?" they heard a voice ask.
"Martie!" Ryan exclaimed in response before Artemis let out a small squeal.
"I guess Artemis is there now," Miri said.
"I guess so," Riker and Jeff replied in unison as Artemis appeared with Ryan clinging to her back. Lasey smiled and rolled her eyes at her younger brother.
"Bless it that this child inherited my short genes," Artemis said as she shifted Ryan slightly.
"Hey!" Ryan exclaimed.
"Love you, baby boy," Artemis said in response before he slid back to the floor.
"Love you too," Ryan replied as he kissed her cheek. She smiled and ruffled his hair before walking over and worming her way between Riker and Jeff to hug Riker.
"Hi, Martie," Lasey said, leaning over to kiss Artemis' cheek.
"Hello, darling," Artemis replied as she smiled and then pressed a loud kiss to Riker's cheek as Jeff ran his fingers lightly through Artemis' short hair.
"Hello, Artemis. How are you doing?" Miri asked.
"I'm good. How's everyone over there? I heard Kaiden and Addie are with you," Artemis replied. Miri let out a sigh and Jeff could almost see her shoulders sagging.
"Things have been better," she added after a few seconds.
"Understandable," Artemis said with a small nod. "It's just a shitty day in general."
"Yep," Riker agreed as he buried his face in her shoulder and she ran her fingers lightly through the hair at the nape of his neck.
"I mean, I was already planning on coming over, but now there was more of a reason," Artemis added.
"Mhm," Jeff agreed. Then, Samoa jumped onto the counter and swatted at Lasey's hair before meowing and running off.
"Oh! You little bitch!" Lasey exclaimed, jumping off the counter and running after the cat, Ryan laughing as he followed.
"What just happened?" Miri asked.
"Samoa swatted at Lasey's hair and then ran off. The hunting has begun for the day," Jeff replied.
"What?" Katie asked.
"This happens at least once a day. Samoa swats at Lasey or Ryan and then runs off so they chase her in this weird hunt they have started. One of them is always bound to get injured," Jeff told her. Artemis giggled and rolled her eyes as they heard Miri chuckle.
"This actually happened earlier too. Samoa is feeling feisty today," Riker mumbled. Then, they heard both Ryan and Lasey release yelps before a loud thump. Jeff sighed and rolled his eyes before moving out from behind Artemis to slide off of the counter.
"These children, I swear. I'm getting grey hairs already," Jeff breathed as he walked into the living room to see Ryan and Lasey toppled on top of each other behind the couch. They both looked up with wide eyes as Jeff approached.
"It was Samoa's fault, I swear!" Lasey exclaimed defensively.
"Totally and completely the cat's fault," Ryan added, his eyes also wide.
"If you guys didn't chase after her this wouldn't happen," Jeff huffed out in response as he pulled Lasey up from the floor, and then Ryan. Samoa appeared then and sat down, flicking her tail and looking up at them smugly.
"Gotcha!" Ryan exclaimed as he quickly ducked down and scooped the cat up. Samoa let out a surprised yowl and then easily settled into Ryan's arms. "Not so smug now, are you?"
"She totally is. She enjoys when we get inured," Lasey replied before she stalked back off towards the kitchen.
"This house has such a high sass factor," Jeff sighed as he followed after Lasey.
"Because ninety percent of the inhabitants are gay, ten percent is a teenage girl, and the other inhabitant is a cat," Ryan chuckled as he followed as well, absentmindedly scratching at Samoa's ears.
"Point taken," Jeff replied with a shrug as they walked back into the kitchen to see Artemis in Jeff's previous spot with her fingers buried in Riker's hair as Lasey leaned into Artemis' side.
"Anyone injured?" Miri asked.
"Not enough for it to matter," Jeff breathed out in response.
"Gee, thanks, Papa," Lasey said as she tolled her eyes. Jeff just smiled and walked over to kiss her forehead. She smiled smugly and did the same in response.
"Alright. Well, I'm gonna let you guys go. I have some things to attend to. Rike, call if you need anything," Miri said.
"Mkay, Mom," Riker breathed out, holding himself closer to Artemis' chest.
"Love you guys," Miri added.
"Love you too," they all replied before Jeff hung up his phone.
"Can we go watch movies?" Ryan asked as he shifted Samoa slightly in his arms.
"Yes," Jeff replied, gently nudging Ryan and Lasey towards the living room.
"I pick first!" Lasey exclaimed, running towards the living room.
"No fair!" Ryan yelled out.
"Compromise, kids!" Jeff told him as Artemis giggled and then passed Riker off to Jeff so she could slide off the counter.
"Those two never change," Artemis breathed out.
"Nope," Riker and Jeff agreed.
"Now, c'mon. Watching whatever stupid movie those two pick out will help," Jeff said as he pressed his lips to Riker's forehead. Riker nodded in agreement and then allowed Artemis and Jeff to lead him towards the living room where all five of them ended up cuddled together on one couch.